It is so easy to focus on negatives – especially as a parent. As raising children is not a competition why are we so fast hide away from the fact that we have done things differently, have achieved things or the great lottery of life has given us something good?
I think we make apologies for the things that are going well in our parental journey because we don’t want to make others feel inadequate or worse about things they already, wrongly, think they are failing at. Which of course is good – we don’t want other people to feel like they are failing because their child isn’t doing what ours is. It’s so important to be supportive and sensitive to others – especially sleep deprived parents. But, here is the thing: (to quote my mother in law) all children are in an ability group of one – and so are you as their parents.
We have really struggled with Wilbur’s sleep – it is still all over the place but I try not to be that mother who people can’t talk about sleep in front of. My thinking about parenthood comes back all the time to one thing: we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got. So we should do it with confidence and be proud of what we’ve achieved or what, by luck, has happened in our children’s development.
So I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry that my children – generally – eat well. I’m not sorry that I breastfed for 6 months the first time and 13 months the second time – and I’m not sorry that most of the time I hated it, even though it came easily to us. I’m not sorry that Joni slept well and teething didn’t bother her. I’m not sorry that I chose to have a caesarean with my second baby and I’d make that choice again and again.
I’m also sorry that I’m not sorry that Joni isn’t toilet trained yet. I’m not sorry that my house is rarely all clean all at once. I’m not sorry that I have no idea what phonics are and I have no intention of teaching my children them until they show interest at school. I’m not sorry that some days they watch more TV than other children might and I’m not sorry that Joni believes a genuinely exciting toddler outing is a trip to Caffe Nero.
Because I can confidently say that no one is a better mother than me for my children. I definitely do not get everything right all the time – no one ever has or ever will. No one knows our children as well as we do and whilst we do have a village to thank for raising them alongside us (hello almost all our extended family within 20 minutes) we are doing a good job. It doesn’t matter that their sleep is erratic or that they think Ben & Holly are their actual friends because they are so loved and they so know it. I’m not sorry about any way that they are parented because I’m confident that we are doing the right thing for our children, or at least we are trying our best to. Peaceful parenting occurs when parents are loving, trust their instincts and are confident in their ability to raise their children.
So, go forth with confidence: you are a brilliant parent. You are doing the best you can do and you should be proud of that.